金門留念Directed by Hung Chun-hsiu
Opening Film, 2022 Taiwan International Documentary Festival
Official Selection, 2022 Taipei Film Festival
Once the front lines of war between the Communists and the KMT, the islands of Quemoy (also known as Kinmen) are now a tourist curiosity. Situated right off the coast of China but governed from afar by Taiwan, the islands’ shores are littered with battalion relics and abandoned tanks like beached whales chapped by the ocean breeze. Men are still stationed in Quemoy as part of compulsory military service, participating in phantom war games as China’s rise mere kilometers away looms silently.
For some though, Quemoy is home. Documentarian Hung Chun-hsiu (The Lost Sea, SDAFF ’13) turns the camera on curious figures that inhabit the old streets. Bug-eyed Lee Kuo-ming is a studio photographer specializing in glamor shots of stationed soldiers. Back when Quemoy was the scene of actual fighting, the photos were soldiers’ ways to connect with family and loved ones—and to send home a proof of life. Across the way is another romantic refraction of war: military enactment crews, including one led by a woman with a secret identity.
Hung explores Quemoy’s present as an alternate universe of sorts, a place where the Cold War was hot, and the embers have cooled quietly into political obscurity. The people and their stories map another history of Taiwan, and gauzy photos of men and machine guns are a testament to a different city of sadness.